Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast television programmes then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Single Justice Procedure Notice: Its Application to TV Licence Offences


As many readers will be aware, the Magistrates' Court in England and Wales is typically comprised of a bench of three lay Justices or a single District Judge.

The bench can exercise its full authority with only two lay Justices sitting, but until now the powers of a single Justice have been somewhat limited.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 introduced a raft of measures designed to increase the efficiency of the criminal courts. One such measure, which we have briefly touched on, was the introduction of trial by a single Justice.

Trial by a single Justice is only suitable in the most straightforward of criminal cases, where the defendant pleads guilty. The majority of TV licence offences fall squarely into that category.

It is for the prosecution (e.g. Capita acting on behalf of the BBC) to decide whether or not a case is suitable for trial by a single Justice.

Some cases, due to their complexity, will continue to be dealt with by a full bench of Magistrates. In these cases, the defendant will be sent a Requisition to appear before the court and answer the charge. This situation is very similar to the previous system, which you can read more about in our earlier post.

If the prosecution deems a case suitable for trial by a single Justice, then the defendant will be sent a copy of the Single Justice Procedure Notice and written charge. The defendant will be asked to indicate a plea of guilty or not guilty. A defendant who pleads guilty can still choose to have their case dealt with by the full Magistrates' Court, otherwise it will proceed under the single Justice arrangements. A defendant who pleads not guilty will automatically have their case dealt with by the full Magistrates' Court.

You can find a lot more information about trial by a single Justice in this article.

Cases can be dealt with by a single Justice behind closed doors. A court legal advisor is present, but there are no prosecution or defence advocates. For that reason, if there is any contention at all about the circumstances of the alleged offence, we would recommend that a defendant chooses to have their case dealt with by the full Magistrates' Court.

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

TV Licensing in Twitter PR Offensive


In the finest traditions of TV Licensing PR harlotdom, it appears the BBC's revenue generation bullies have shot themself in the arse again.

TV Licensing's latest media offensive focuses on the number of Twitter users posting the words "worth the licence fee" about various BBC programmes.

According to TV Licensing, in the past year the "worth the licence fee" comment has been posted on Twitter:
  • 241 times, in relation to Happy Valley.
  • 492 times, in relation to The Night Manager.
  • 403 times, in relation to The Hunt.
  • 123 times, in relation to Strictly Come Dancing.
  • 166 times, in relation to the BBC Proms.
  • 156 times, in relation to Panorama.
  • 106 times, in relation to DIY SOS.
  • 100 times, in relation to Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners.
  • 106 times, in relation to Line of Duty.
  • 97 times, in relation to War and Peace.
TV Licensing also claim that the words "worth the licence fee" were used, presumably less than 97 times, in relation to several other programmes, including Doctor Forster, Match Of The Day, Springwatch, Dr Who and Crimewatch.

In total, according to TV Licensing, the words "worth the licence fee" have been mentioned 12,000 times between 31st March 2015 and 1st April 2016 - that's about 33 "worth the licence fee" tweets a day, which is actually pretty paltry. Furthermore, using TV Licensing's flawed methodology, a fair few of those tweets probably had the word "not" prefixing "worth the licence fee".

Let's take a closer look at some of the headline figures given by TV Licensing above: 
  • There were 6 episodes of Happy Valley, so the average episode only received about 40 "worth the licence fee" tweets from 9.4m viewers.
  • There were 6 episodes of The Night Manager, so the average episode only received about 82 "worth the licence fee" tweets from 9.9m viewers.
  • There were 7 episodes of The Hunt, so the average episode only received about 58 "worth the licence fee" tweets from 5.1m viewers.
How many times do people tweet about the abysmal level of service provided by TV Licensing? Quite a lot more than post "worth the licence fee" we'd suggest. They also consistently vent their spleen about TV Licensing on a daily basis.

Why not search for TV Licensing on Twitter and see what we mean for yourself?!

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

TV Licensing Called - And Assume You're Guilty


TV Licensing called and they assume you are guilty of an offence you haven't committed.

That's certainly the impression TV Licensing gives in the text of the We Said We'd Call (WSWC) card they left for landlord Jim the other day.

TV Licensing is the trading name used by the companies contracted by the BBC to administer and enforce the TV licence. TV Licensing are private companies, of which Capita Business Services is the most notable, acting on the BBC's behalf and with no special legal authority. TV Licensing is not an official law enforcement agency, yet it clearly believes it has the right to use its barbed tongue, veiled threats and baseless insinuations to scare people into buying a TV licence they might not legally need.

Below we deconstruct some key excerpts from the WSWC card. The truth is far less sinister than myths TV Licensing would have people believe.
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WSWC card says: I visited today to help you start watching TV legally.

The truth: Of course TV Licensing has no evidence whatsoever that the recipient is watching TV illegally. Indeed the BBC's own figures confirm that more than 4 out of 5 unlicensed properties are correctly unlicensed.

WSWC card says: Our records show that your address isn't covered by a TV licence.

The truth: That is probably correct, although a quick trawl of TV Licensing's Twitter feed reveals many licence-holders complaining that they too have been needlessly threatened by TV Licensing.

WSWC card says: I visited today to help make sure your address is licensed, so you can avoid the penalties of breaking the law.

The truth: As mentioned earlier, TV Licensing has no proof of wrongdoing. It implies wrongdoing solely on the basis that the occupier, who is under no legal obligation to assist TV Licensing, has not submitted to earlier enquiries. TV Licensing goons are incentivised to hard-sell. They have strict performance targets to meet and can earn lucrative commission payments by selling TV licences to people who might not legally need them.

WSWC card says: If an officer finds evidence that you're watching or recording TV illegally during our investigation, here's what could happen next...

The truth: Well under half of people caught evading the TV licence fee are actually convicted of the offence. TV Licensing will often withdraw a prosecution at the last moment if a TV licence is purchased or it appears the accused will mount a credible defence. Even in those rare cases that do end in a conviction, the fine is virtually always less than £300 and never anywhere near the £1,000 maximum often mentioned by TV Licensing.

WSWC card says: If you don't need a licence we'd like to stop writing to you.

The truth: This is another of TV Licensing's famous barefaced lies. No-one is under any legal obligation at all to confirm their compliance with the law to TV Licensing. Anyone that goes to the trouble of making a No Licence Needed declaration invariably finds that TV Licensing continues to send threatograms, demand access to the property or both.
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Our advice to anyone who doesn't legally need a TV licence is the same as always: Totally ignore TV Licensing.

Say absolutely nothing at all to any TV Licensing goon that visits your home. By saying nothing the occupier is depriving TV Licensing of its most effective weapon - information. Without information, TV Licensing is powerless to advance its enquiries any further.

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